The Sights of Rotorua
There’s plenty to see so plan your time here carefully. Visit Te Puia for a glimpse of Maori heritage, watching the master craftsmen carving and weaving as they have done for centuries.
Don’t miss the Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Reserve, featuring all things boiling and sulphurous: bubbling mud pools, mineral pools of myriad colours, including the 62 metre deep Champagne Pool, and the famous Lady Knox geyser.
Nearby is the Agrodome Show, popular for its sheep shearing demonstration and sheep dog antics. The animals always steal the show of course. There are more animals at the Rainbow Springs Nature Park, including the endangered kiwi.
Take the cable car ‘gondola’ up Mount Ngongotaha and in return you’ll get amazing views across Rotorua from 487 metres up. The luge run - more like a go-kart - is a popular way to descend.
Hobbiton Movie Set
To the north east lies Hobbiton, the movie set used in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. It’s a fascinating insight into the epic movies, with a guided tour, and a chance to pose for a selfie outside Bilbo Baggins’s front door. Finish by sampling a hobbit ale in the Green Dragon while overlooking the lake, the mill and Bag End.
You don’t have to be a big fan of the movies to appreciate the ingenuity that created the charm of the Shire in the middle of a 1,250 acre sheep farm in the Waikato.
The quirky little town of Matamata, with its large corrugated iron buildings in the shape of farm animals, is a really good place to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat.
Traditional Maori Hangi
According to legend the Maori made the great migration across the ocean in huge canoes (waka), arriving in New Zealand which became their spiritual home.
You’ll have the chance to learn about the Maori past and traditions and in the evening go along to a traditional feast or hangi. This is a sumptuous banquet with Maori culture featuring music and dancing. You may even find yourself performing the haka!
The traditional welcome - the Powhiri - is performed and you’ll be entertained by your hosts with a performance of dancing and accompanying explanations in the ancestral Meeting House.
The hangi is slow cooked underground in the traditional manner, covered with hessian sacks and earth to ensure maximum flavour and succulence.
It’s always a great moment for a photo when the team pulls back the covers to reveal the feast emerging from the steam: juicy chicken, tender lamb and plenty of traditional vegetables all full of flavour.